To create a unique photograph, you must communicate to the viewer the special aspects of your subject that resonate with you. A passerby most likely would not have perceived this flower the way I have portrayed it here. Through my own composing and technical translation, I managed to convey my own distinct impression of the flower.
This photo is a result of years of visits to a particular hillside near my home village in Boghis, Salaj, Romania, where these flowers bloom in early spring. I have seen many brilliant photos of the greater pasque flower (Pulsatilla grandis), but the basic idea and inspiration to create my own interpretation of them originated when I discovered that they grow in my home village.
Canon 400D . Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro . 1/12s . f/7.1 . ISO100 . -1.67EV
These magnificent flowers only appear in March. When the winter is over and the first warm days arrive, they bloom for one or two weeks only. On the last day of March 2008, I went out for a photo shoot one hour before sunset. I took my camera, macro lens, tripod and a black T-shirt. It was a quiet walk in the diffused twilight. My goal was not to capture the usual macro shot with a long depth of field: I wanted an artistic rendition. I wanted to emphasize the shape of the flower, and especially the fluffy white hairs. Therefore, I did not use flash and the depth of field was just enough to keep the silhouette sharp while the rest of the flower remained slightly out of focus.
"I held my breath as I focused on the enlarged flower in the viewfinder, and I took pictures during the brief moments that I was relatively still."
I tried several test shots with various apertures, such as f/2.8, f/4.0 and f/7.1, until I found one that satisfied me (f/7.1). There was only a slight breeze, but it was enough to make it very difficult to take a sharp picture. I held my breath as I focused on the enlarged flower in the viewfinder, and I took pictures during the brief moments that I was relatively still. I tried three or four more compositions, each time with varying aperture values to ensure that some of them came out sharp. I was lying in the grass with the camera on the ground. The black T-shirt served as my backdrop, which I had positioned behind the flower before I started shooting. To capture the delicate hairs on the flower, I needed to shoot toward the setting sun, so I searched for the right angle to include the black background and to catch a perfect backlight on the flower. The lens was facing the sun, but I made sure it was not pointing directly at it to prevent lens flare.
"For this particular dynamic composition, I rotated the camera about 30 or 40 degrees counterclockwise to place the vertical stalk on a diagonal in the frame."
In macro photography, I never use autofocus. I set the correct magnification, and then move the camera back and forth until I find the focus through the viewfinder. For this particular dynamic composition, I rotated the camera about 30 or 40 degrees counterclockwise to place the vertical stalk on a diagonal in the frame. I tried three compositions and each worked well, but this particular shot was definitely the best. I took this photo during my second of three photo sessions to capture this flower, which shows that good preparation pays off!My belief is that photography is a visual art form, and the artwork should convey the message visually without words. I have never understood why a photo needs a title. I only use titles for organizational purposes, which is why I named this image after the Latin name for the flower. I let the photograph speak for itself.